Destiny, Star Wars Battlefront And Pokémon Go: The Games We Love To Hate
From time to time, seemingly more so now than ever, you’ll come across something popular, whether it be a book, film or, in this case, a game, that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for you. In fact, all you can say about the game in question are varying degrees of negative comments, whether it be that it doesn’t run well, the story isn’t all there, or that the constant shoot and loot mechanics (I’m looking at you, Destiny) can get repetitive and simply aren’t rewarding enough to warrant your valued time. Yet, as the day goes on, you still think about how you’ll try and tackle that darn raid for the 13th time and, despite the aforementioned animosity, you know full well that you’ll still enjoy it regardless.
It never really seemed to be this way though. With what feels like an abundance of AAA games being released on a monthly basis, the gaming populace are more forgiving nowadays of games that don't fulfil them.
“Ha!” I hear you cry with glee, surrounded by your perfect video games and pristine memorabilia. In the good ole days, gamers were more likely to play a game and, once deducting from the beginning ‘X’ number of minutes/hours that it simply wasn’t worth their time, would discard it for a better title.
As mentioned earlier, Destiny was one such game that garnered negative comments and, regardless of whether they were well deserved on launch, I couldn’t stop playing it. I would go to work and contemplate how I was going to make my Hunter better, only to come home and complain about how there was really no point to any of what I was doing. I still play it, less obsessively mind, and am thoroughly looking forward to the sequel.
Sometimes it’s seemingly 'cool' to hate a game for no reason at all. Call of Duty immediately springs to mind. With animations cut-and-pasted across instalments, expensive DLC and, for the most part, little variation between iterations, the general gaming audience scoff at Activision and their money-loving ways. Forum-goers vow to never buy another Call of Duty title for as long as they live to inevitably purchase it in spite of their pride. A good friend of mine did exactly that, and when asked why, his response was, plainly: “I hated sucking at multiplayer but kept going back time after time.” Say what you will about Call of Duty, the mechanics are not only fun, but rewarding as well. It succeeds where the games of yesteryear succeeded; specifically that ‘one more go’ nature of the gameplay.
Star Wars Battlefront didn’t particularly have an easy ride, either. With it coming from the seemingly equally money-obsessed EA, fans were critical from the start. Being a licensed game wouldn’t have helped either and, on the run up to launch, the sorry news broke that there wouldn’t be a significant campaign included. EA were quoted, saying “As we thought about the legacy of the previous Battlefront games - they didn't really have campaigns, they've always been predominately a multiplayer franchise. That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to focus on the multiplayer.”
The internet was furious, as they weren’t consulted first on what they did or didn’t want, and expected more, as they always do. Regardless of the end-result, which was a very competent shooter, and a love letter to those wishing to engage in modern day Star Wars canon, Battlefront's fate was sealed and would forever be associated with a team that simply didn’t care to ask what the players wanted.
The final example of a game captured the attention of many millions around the globe in an instant and, with the exception of Reddit at the time, was adored by equally as many was Pokemon Go. A game that infuriated many with staggered release dates and little to no communication from Niantic, the developers, as to when people would be able to get their ball-handling mitts at the ready. Server issues plagued the opening months too, with eager punters looking to catch ‘em all as soon as possible. Many were furious, and after months of silence and feature removals, many more vowed to never return.
Soon after, Niantic realised the error of their ways and improved not only their communication, but gave fans a roadmap feature - how effective it was was debatable. However, by this point the damage on the community had been done. News reports stated that the fad was over, with Pokemon Go losing millions of its player base, despite forgetting that it had 10 times as many more still captivated by it. What was once a cool, community-based video game turned into something that only the ‘hardcore’ appeared to still partake it, whether casually or not. Reddit, for the most part, seems to have curbed its hyperbolic posts these days. It must be said, though, the effort that Niantic are still putting in to the game is very much appreciated - especially since Generation Two Pokés have been released in full in the last week or so giving the AR Poké-experience a new lease of life.
Looking over these few examples, it seems as if the well-known adage is indeed true: first impressions do matter. Whether it's a game that lacks finesse, but still manages to keep you hooked, or a game that started off on the wrong foot and, for whatever reason, has managed to maintain the hate, regardless or the overall quality of said title. The message that is portrayed not only in the opening months, but rather from the moment of reveal, is crucial. What’s more important to remember, however, is that some people will just simply hate on things for the sake of it. Some people can never accept that you feel differently to them, and refuse to listen to why you might like the thing they hate. Some folks, for no rhyme or reason, just love to hate. All we need to do is look past that, enjoy what we enjoy, and don’t get in the way of others doing exactly that. Let’s try our hardest to work towards that, shall we?
Nick Hanchet | @NickHanchet